The Barbican in London is hosting the expansive AI: More Than Human Exhibition, with a discussion and performance night featuring one of the world’s first A.I. popstars, Yona.
AI: More Than Human is a major festival-style exhibition which investigates developments in artificial intelligence, be they scientific or creative. The exhibition reveals the life-revolutionising power of the virtual.
The show will bring together scientists, researchers and artists in an interactive setting. It features technological projects by DeepMind, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Neri Oxman. There will also be exhibits and installations from artists including Mario Klingemann, Massive Attack, Es Devlin and teamLab.
The exhibition looks at where the phenomenon of A.I. comes from, travelling back through several centuries of history. Focusing on the interaction between humans and technology, it looks at how A.I. is shaping our lives and where it might take us.
Co-curator Suzanne Livingston said:
“We’re going to see much more merging, if you like, of humans with technology, with nature and that is going to require us to really open up our idea of the human in profound ways.”
Displays include chatbots, facial recognition technology, deepfake videos and installations.
Perceptions of A.I.
Suzanne Livingston notes that ideas surrounding A.I. in Western culture are profoundly negative. Much of our response to the virtual is rooted in fear. This comes from our constructed understanding of the self.
“We can be very fearful of change, of challenge…Some people compare fear of A.I. with fear of the other. And I think that’s a useful analogy. And in the East, it’s a less closed-off idea.”
Our ideas about robots and artificial intelligence have been built upon centuries of cultural tradition that centres the organic human as a singular individual. The human body is natural and sacred, it is the physical manifestation of the self.
Co-curator Maholo Uchida contrasts these ideas with attitudes towards A.I. in Asia, which she says are much more fluid and openly accepting:
“In the East, the robot is a partner. We all accept new technology as a useful tool or a partner [In Asia] technology is technology and the human is human.”
For Livingston and Uchida, the future of artificial intelligence need not be frightening. AI: More Than Human seeks to explore how we got where we are, and the optimistic potential for where we are headed.
“There’s a great deal to be excited about in terms of the future of artificial intelligence, in terms of redefining who we are, in terms of redefining society in all kinds of positive ways.”
In a partnership with Dazed, the Barbican is hosting an evening of discussion and performance introducing Yona, “one of the world’s foremost virtual entertainers.”
Virtual entertainment company Auxuman created Yona, the brainchild of musician Ash Koosha and artist Isabella Winthrop. She is programmed with the ability to create her own lyrics, chords and melodies.
The resulting electronic music is atmospheric and complex. Creating using aggregate data of online users, she calls us to ponder our collective consciousness. Yona’s haunting music brims with emotion.
Auxuman co-founder Negar Shaghaghi begins the evening’s discussions, centring on Yona’s creation and what might come next.
The event ends with a performance by Yona herself. Check out her music chops below:
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